ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Georgeina Whelan and Stanthorpe volunteer firey Hugh Strong.
ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Georgeina Whelan and Stanthorpe volunteer firey Hugh Strong.

Rain brings hope for fire weary volunteer

A LOCAL firey has clocked up some miles over the last few months after fighting blazes across the country.

Stanthorpe man, Hugh Strong, decided to join the Queensland Rural Fire Service after listening to stories from survivors of the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires.

In 2009, he was working the bushfire information line.

He helped people over the phone, but wanted to do more.

"I felt like I couldn't listen to those stories and just do nothing. I wanted to step up and to give back to the community. I wanted to make people safe," Mr Strong said.

It's been a long summer for the volunteer.

At home, he fought the Stanthorpe fires, then worked in Main Range National Park and most recently has been at the Orroral Valley fires in the ACT.

 

 

Hugh Strong in the thick of the fires.
Hugh Strong in the thick of the fires.

 

"The acts of courage I've encountered this year have been extraordinary," Mr Strong said.

"From a newly qualified 17-year-old cadet holding a fire line with me in defence of properties to watching a brigade melt their own truck defending a house.

"It's not just a matter of putting the wet stuff on the red stuff.

"There's no better feeling than seeing a job through to the end, and heading home knowing it's done."

He said he'd encourage everyone to consider joining their local rural fire service.

"Sign up, we need you. Even if people don't want to face the hot stuff there are lots of other jobs to do," he said.

The recent rain has brought welcome relief after months of work on the ground.

It gives Mr Strong hope that one day soon they'll be able to take a break, hang up their helmets and farewell a long, hot summer.

"By the time you've finished on the firefighting line you have nothing left. The number of times I have slept in my gear this year is unbelievable," Hugh said.

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